The "what is" and " how to" thread for the Rolls Razor

Discussion in 'Safety Razors' started by gregindallas, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. pablo_h

    pablo_h New Member

    I've got a few rolls razors.
    A couple of imperial #2 steel/chrome
    I think I have an imperial #2 aluminium
    And a couple of viscounts
    Some as just half broken sets for spares though, borken spring, broken hone, stuffed strop etc,, rusted blades, but bought them nonetheless for spare parts. I even bought a new blade in a bakelite blade box.
    Even with the best blades on the best hone and strop, I could never get any of the blades sharp enough to have a good shave with for now.
    Just keeping them for when there's no decent blades around and I could have time learning to hone on a proper stone.
  2. RoadRunner

    RoadRunner New Member

    Thanks for the details

    Wow, gregindallas, this thread is great. Thanks for all the amazing details and pictures. :signs154
  3. michiganlover

    michiganlover Member

    I have recently acquired two Rolls Razor, one of which had an extra blade that came in the blade box, and was still covered with paper, and oil!!

    Both are in good condition, but I have a few questions:

    In my effort to clean the strops, I cleaned them with soap, and water. The foam padding on the back appeared to be glue to me, so I just scrubbed it off. How important is this padding? Will the strop work fine without it? What do you think about replacing this padding with a thin layer of cork (with the strop then on top).

    In terms of the hone, do you feel the hone alone is sufficient for developing a shave ready edge? I was considering buying a 3rd Rolls so I could replace the strop component with thin balsa; I was going to do a ferrous oxide coated balsa strop, and a CrOx coated strop. It seems the three combined ought to give me a pretty good edge.

    Thanks,

    John.
  4. gregindallas

    gregindallas Rolls Razor Revivalist

    John
    That backing is the pad or spacer for the strop. It can be replaced with any workable material that would hold up to the wear and tear of the stropping process.
    The keys are right thickness and recovers after use. The old series 1s had no backing but did have a thicker piece of leather. The thickness controls the angle between the blade and strop. That backing will cost you a couple of degrees.

    I would try stroping an honing without pastes 1st.
  5. Mr. Flay

    Mr. Flay New Member

    Okay, question from someone who has no straight razor experience whatsoever, but now has two Rolls razors and the makings of Rolls fever:

    The blade for one of them is a wee bit dull, but I think could be honed on the unit to an acceptable edge with a bit of work. The other blade is in good shape (upon visual inspection) but won't cut a whisker (at least one of my whiskers) at this point. Should I go for professional honing at this point just so I can at the very least see what a shave ready blade is like? I thinking I should. I could hone it myself on the Rolls for a long time and not know when I've arrived at a sweet spot.

    Anyway, I'm at a loss as to who does honing for these blades and what a reasonable price would be. I emailed a fairly well known straight razor vendor and was quoted a price just about twice as much as what they charge for honing a straight razor.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    And by the way, this is the most helpful thread on any subject I've come across. It'll prove invaluable to me as I stumble headlong into my "Rolls folly."
  6. michiganlover

    michiganlover Member

    When I was looking into the idea of having a Rolls blade professional honed last year, the person with the most experience was said to be Ambrose:

    http://ambroseshave.com/honing.html

    The price quoted to me for the service was about $20-$25 if I recall correctly. :cool:

    I never did get the blade honed, as I ended up selling off the Rolls Razor I then owned (I have since repurchased two different ones).
  7. Mr. Flay

    Mr. Flay New Member

    Thanks for the tip, John. I'll check it out.
  8. gorgo2

    gorgo2 Well-Known Member

    Greg, this is a great resource and thank you for your work on it.

    Have you determined the breakdown on dating with regards to cases with the words STROP and HONE (I think) stamped above each button, so you can know which one you're releasing? I'm assuming these are the later models.

    Also, do you know if/when Rolls stopped stamping serial numbers on the outside of the cases? I've had some with, and others that I don't recall noticing a SN.

    Thanks again!!!
  9. Marcus H.Whichard

    Marcus H.Whichard New Member

    Would you still have an extra handle you might be willing to part with or sale?
  10. Johnl

    Johnl New Member

    Further disassembly of the rolls

    Having removed the FPA as per this thread, you will note that there is a "C"
    clip at each end of the spindle, inside the handle bars. - these can be removed by using
    a pair if needle nose pliers to push both sides of the clip down at the same time..

    With both clips removed, the handle will spring together in the space now provided on the
    spindle. using a flat bladed screwdriver, the bearing boss may be slipped out of its track, and
    the whole assembly tipped longways along the track to allow the gear to leave the rack. the
    handle with spindle attached will then lift clear allowing full access to the tracks for
    proper cleaning.

    The spring clips at each end are easily lifted out by gripping one end with the needle pliers, and
    prizing outwards to free the clip. The button then pushes through from the outside.

    I don't think the spindle will release from the handle forks, but will post here if I figure this out.

    Thanks for the first class information presented in this thread.
  11. SharpSpine

    SharpSpine Well-Known Member

    Just got my first Rolls Razor today. I was initially thinking of cleaning it up tonight to shave with it tomorrow but I now see that it will take a bit more work than I first thought. No big deal, I'm just thankful to Greg for putting together all of this great information.
    IAmTheJody likes this.
  12. Johnl

    Johnl New Member

    I promised a further post if I managed to further dissemble the Rolls Handle.
    This has now been done (I had a handle that had been much used - clue the
    plating had been worn back to the brass). There was so much movement on the
    FPA spindle that it was obvious that the brass bearing had been almost worn away,
    (See top end of spindle in picture).

    As this spindle was useless, I used a pair of needle pliers to gently prize off the gear,
    as shown in lower part of the picture. I found that the gear was pressed onto the splined
    end of the shaft, and came away quite easily. It is also just as easily located on the splines
    and replaced by gently pressing home.

    This allows the assembly to be completely stripped for re-plating or replacement of gears
    or bearings from salvaged parts.

    I hope this helps anyone rebuilding or re-plating.

    Gear.jpg
    IAmTheJody likes this.
  13. thatmikeguy

    thatmikeguy New Member

    Aside from Johnl, has anyone else documented the progress following Greg's instructions? Any success stories? Before and after pics? Any notable failures?

    Greg, a quick question on re-lubrication: Rather than vaseline, could a dry, wax-based lubricant (like those used for bicycle chains) be used? It seems like it would help limit future buildup and potential fouling of the strop.

    I have an imperial and viscount coming in the mail, thank you for the time and diligence you've put into your posts.
  14. gregindallas

    gregindallas Rolls Razor Revivalist

    Other that the 2 I put out there (1 sold and 1 given away as part of this thread), I haven't heard a thing. My 2 seem to be holding up ok as I've heard no complants. Of course, all my have been subjected to this process.:biggrin:

    Any lube will work as long as it's used in extreme moderation. :biggrin:
  15. Johnl

    Johnl New Member

    With regard to "Thatmikeguy's" request for reporting of results from Greg's procedures, I bought a mixed bag of six razors, Strop paste and Blades from ebay about six weeks ago.

    This resolved into three useable units. I followed Greg's instructions, together with my own further disassembly and cleaning, and then turned my attention to bringing two of the best blades up to shaving quality.

    I found the easiest way of achieving a good enough edge, was to use a rolls hone out of its lid, directly on newspaper on a table. Using saliva as a lubricant, (My father always used "Natures cutting oil" when honing his cut throats). Pressing the blade firmly down on the push stroke, and pulling back lightly on the return, I proceeded with ten strokes on each side, until the edge on both sides was clean, bright, and evenly ground.

    Then stropping, back in the rolls box with the strop dressed with Rolls paste rejuvenated with a little Neatsfoot oil, and giving at least sixty stropping strokes.

    This resulted in a passable shave, so I repeated the whole process one more time and got a better shave. Since then I have stropped sixty strokes before each shave, and twenty strokes afterwards, and the shave has got progressively better. Now I can rely on a quality shave each time, as good as the cut throat I was using when I started shaving with one of my fathers cut throats, back in the late 1950's

    It is worth the considerable effort! - Once a good shave is achieved there is nothing better! - Keep going people.
  16. thatmikeguy

    thatmikeguy New Member

    Thanks Johnl, my Visount should arrive tomorrow and my own restoration adventures will begin. I'm sure ya'll can expect to see a few more "what's this" and "oh man, did I break it" comments in the near future.
  17. thatmikeguy

    thatmikeguy New Member

    Viscount arrived today, it has the cork strop. The condition is is quite nice. No rust and only minor scratching on the edges of the bottom of the case. The mechanism works smoothly and the blade has a reasonable edge, regardless it will still be getting the "Greg" preparation.
    I should be able to use the leather strop from the Imperial I have coming, correct?
  18. gregindallas

    gregindallas Rolls Razor Revivalist

    Yea sure ya bet-cha! But don't discount the Imperial. It might be the frame you want.:D
  19. thatmikeguy

    thatmikeguy New Member

    Imperial arrived. Wow, talk about more robust construction, geez! While I get ready to post some "before" pictures, I have a question regarding the blade guards. One of the blades, the guard has a very crisp 'snap' as it moves from one side of the blade to the other. The second blade guard is 'mushy' for lack of a better word.

    Does the guard have a mechanism in the spine of the blade that could be gummed up? Is this a remediable issue, or should I just let it be?

    I'm in the process of a rubbing alcohol soak right now and will be moving on to stronger solutions if needs be.
  20. gregindallas

    gregindallas Rolls Razor Revivalist

    The guard is removable (not easy) with your fingernails by pulling one of the end pins out of its hole. Then clean out the holes, apply some pressure to bend the ends slightly closer together and reinstall on the blade. This should cause the guard to snap like it should. I've found that the Al guards from the Viscounts are more prone to getting lose than the brass ones from the Imperials but they both come around with a little adjustment.

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